Major Philanthropies Launch Effort to Establish Multidisciplinary Centers at Leading Academic Institutions Focused on Reinventing Capitalism, Economics and Society to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century

MENLO PARK, Calif., February 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, along with Omidyar Network, announced more than $40 million in grants to support the creation of multidisciplinary academic centers dedicated to reinventing the relationships between markets, governments and people. At a time when conventional economic prescriptions are failing and democratic governance is under threat around the world, scholars from leading academic institutions will investigate how economies should function in the 21st century and what purposes they should serve.

The Hewlett Foundation will fund the creation and growth of Centers for Policy and Research at the Harvard Kennedy School, Howard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Johns Hopkins Universityand Omidyar Network provides funds to develop an academic center at the Santa Fe Institute.

The Ford Foundation is also committed to this effort and will provide additional grants to institutions of Africa, Asiaand Latin Americato be announced later in 2022. The Open Society Foundations explores how best to support heterodox economic thought through the Open Society University Network, a global partnership of educational institutions that integrates learning and advancement of knowledge.

This announcement marks the start of a major philanthropic effort to fund higher education institutions to help rethink and replace neoliberalism and its assumptions about the relationship between economy and society. For more than 40 years, neoliberalism has dominated economic and political debates, both in the United States and around the world, with its free-market fundamentalism and growth-at-all-costs approach to economic and social policy. Neoliberalism offers no solution to the greatest challenges of our time, such as the climate crisis, systemic racism and rampant wealth inequality – and in many ways it has made these problems even worse. The new academic centers will contribute to the growing movement to articulate a better approach to political economy and find systemic solutions that build a more equitable and resilient society based on a new set of economic values.

“The anti-government, liberal fundamentalism of neoliberalism is simply not suited to today’s economy and society, but what comes next is not yet fully developed,” said Larry KramerPresident of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundationwhich launched its Economy and Society Initiative in December 2020 focus on identifying a successor to neoliberalism. “This joint effort reflects our shared interest in replacing outdated 20th century thinking – individualist vs. collectivist, central control vs. free market, freedom vs. equality, etc. – with new ideas that can lead to economic justice and greater prosperity. broad for people around the This is a first step to supporting forward-thinking scholars, students and thought leaders who can step out of a manifestly failing neoliberal paradigm, with its ossified left-right divides, and help shape a bold new vision of what people should expect from their governments and their economies.”

“In the decades that have passed since economists like Milton Friedman and Frederic Hayek first developed their economic theories, our understanding of the world and the behavior that drives it has improved exponentially. Collectively, we have made great strides in understanding the cause and effects of economic inequality; created vast online social networks that operate from handheld computers; sequenced the human genome; and achieved a much fuller understanding of evolutionary biology and the fundamentally cooperative nature of human beings. Yet the economic models and assumptions used by many academics, economists and policymakers have not kept pace with these advances,” said CEO of Omidyar Network Mike Kubzansky. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we prioritize interdisciplinary scholarship to update our knowledge of complexity to better understand our economy – the complex and dynamic system par excellence. We are delighted to join to the Hewlett Foundation and our other partners to support a new cadre of academic leaders and a new era in the study of economics and its intersection with a wide range of fields. Together, we can change the ideas that will change the world .

The academic centers will all pursue ideas and solutions contributing to the movement to rethink neoliberalism. In addition to developing new research bodies and collaborating with other research institutions through a multidisciplinary approach, the centers will organize meetings to engage scholars, policymakers and other stakeholders to explore new ways of thinking. our economy. The academic centers created through the grants announced today will focus on the following:

  • Harvard Kennedy School Economics Reinvention Project will focus on reshaping economic narratives by taking a more active, empirical economic approach to analyzing local labor market data to better understand the implications of policy-making on local economies.
  • Howard University Center for a Fair and Sustainable Society will investigate the causes and effects of racial and economic inequality to determine solutions to properly address these issues.
  • Johns Hopkins University Economy and Society Center explore the benefits of past versions of liberalism and foster debate between current versions of liberalism to find solutions that can address the shortcomings of neoliberalism.
  • the MIT Department of Economics Shaping the Future of Work Program analyze the forces contributing to the erosion of job quality and labor market opportunities for workers without a university degree – including technology, commerce, rent sharing and management practices – and examine innovations institutional, technological and political factors that can change this trajectory. The program aspires to spearhead new academic research; developing curricula; and bring together students, scholars and policy makers to develop these ideas and put them into practice.
  • Santa Fe Institute will use mathematical and computational theory to study the emergence of alternative political economies, with a focus on the interplay between different forms of inequality, economic and market institutions, smart technologies and cultures of invention and of innovation.

The grants announced today by the Hewlett Foundation and the Omidyar Network will enable academic centers to begin staffing and expanding their research programs, partnerships, and course offerings. Later this year, the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations will announce grants to fund additional centers at institutions in the South and around the world.

About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation:

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a private, nonpartisan charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For more than 50 years, the foundation has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities, make the sector more effective philanthropy and fostering gender equity and responsive governance around the world. His most recent program focuses on strengthening America’s democratic institutions. Learn more about

About Omidyar Network:

Created by philanthropists Pam and Pierre Omidyar, Omidyar Network is a social change enterprise that has engaged over $1 billion to innovative for-profit enterprises and non-profit organizations since 2004. Omidyar Network works to reimagine critical systems and the ideas that govern them, and to build more inclusive and equitable societies in which individuals have the social, economic and democracy to thrive. Learn more about

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SOURCE The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

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